Eavesdrop on any conversation between a journalist and a camera manufacturer, and you're guaranteed to hear some variant of the question, "what are you doing about the rise of smartphone cameras?" At a recent Sony briefing in New York City, the company didn't even wait to be asked — it addressed the question head on, and told us that overall, point-and-shoots are on the wane. Point-and-shoot camera sales were down 20 percent last year across the industry, with entry-level shooters declining the most sharply, and many expect that number to increase in the years to come. Declining doesn't mean dead, though: these cheap cameras still account for as much as 80 percent of camera sales, and the company estimates that people replace their point-and-shoot every two years, so there's still an enormous customer base out there that Sony's not going to ignore.
The three new Cyber-shot cameras Sony launched today hint at how the company's moving ahead — it's seeking the higher-end of the market, and equipping its cameras with better video, more zoom, and megapixels galore. The new $199.99 Cyber-shot DSC-WX50 and $229.99 WX-70 each have 16-megapixel CMOS sensors — Sony said that even though virtually no one needs that many megapixels, people still tend to buy the camera on the shelf with the highest number (and more megapixels do have other benefits, especially relating to noise). They both have 5x optical zoom starting at 25mm, shoot 1080i video at 60 frames per second, and offer plenty of shooting filters and effects. The only difference between the cameras is the display: it's 3.0 inches and touch-enabled on the WX70, and 2.7 inches with no touch capabilities on the WX50. Both will be available in March.
The more interesting of Sony's new cameras is the DSC-TX200V, an all-glass camera with a Carl Zeiss 5x optical zoom lens that is super slim despite being waterproof up to 16 feet and dustproof. It has an 18-megapixel CMOS sensor (again, the more megapixels the merrier) and a 3.30-inch OLED touchscreen, plus a much-improved focusing system that Sony says allows for 0.2-second focus even in low light. It ups its video recording to 1080p, and has the same filters and effects as the WX cameras. It'll be out in March as well, for $499.99.